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Highlights of the Stanislaus River trip from Knights Ferry to Orange Blossom

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Highlights of the Stanislaus River trip from Knights Ferry to Orange Blossom


POSTED July 21, 2012 1:15 a.m.

The scenic section of the Stanislaus River from Knights Ferry to Orange Blossom is popular with both experienced and inexperienced paddlers due to its outstanding mix of wildlife and variety of topography.

Small rapids all along the Stanislaus add to the excitement. This float trip is approximately 8 miles long and is ideal for families, youth groups, companies, clubs, or for those just looking to spend a relaxing day on the water. The put-in point is just down river from the historic Knights Ferry covered bridge, the longest covered bridge west of the Mississippi.

Trips include: paddles, life jackets, boats, parking, and a shuttle at the end of the day. Trips typically begin between 9 and 11 a.m.


1.         Knights Ferry - This is where your trip begins! Knights Ferry itself is an excellent place to explore before or after your trip. Among the town’s attractions are an old ice cream shop, a general store, a flour mill that is over 150 years old, and of course, the covered bridge.

2.         Russian Rapids - Hold on to your hats — Russian Rapids is a class II rapid that provides excitement, yet is still perfect for those new to rafting. Rolling “haystacks” of water provide a challenge in the first mile of your trip.

3.         The Two Bluffs - Lava flows have created a unique alley where the river cuts between two cliffs that rise sharply on both sides of the river. During the summer months cliff swallows call this area their home, and you can get a close up look at hundreds of their mud-nests that dot the cliffs. This area is also a popular cliff-jumping area- but Sunshine doesn’t recommend it.

4.         Lovers Leap - To the left of the river a sheer rock wall with an odd peak juts out against the California sky. Tale has it that many years ago a Native American land dispute led a chieftain’s son and a warring chieftain’s daughter to jump off of this cliff into the water below to prove their love. The drop is more than 200 feet.

5.         Throw Rapid - The Stanislaus River’s sneak attack. At this point in the Stanislaus, the river takes a sharp right turn, followed by a sharp left. Those who aren’t paying attention will find themselves face to face (literally) with the low-hanging branches. Stop just downstream of this to watch other unknowing groups scramble to avoid the trees. Sunshune recommends staying river left.

6.         Horseshoe Park - An excellent place to picnic or just stop for a break. The park itself sprawls over nearly ½ mile and has picnic tables, restrooms, a parking lot and access point, as well as a campground that can be reserved through the Corp of Engineers.

7.         Honolulu Bar - Access to this is often hard to spot, although it too provides river access. Picnic tables are here as well- but the main thing to know about this spot is the fork in the river- be prepared to go left or plan to do some up-river paddling.

8.         Orange Blossom - nestled 8.5 miles from Knights Ferry, this beautiful park has multiple picnic areas which you can rent out ahead of time. Acres of green grass shaded under trees provides a place to play volleyball, eat, or just unwind after your trip. A great place to have Sunshine do your catering so you have a warm meal ready when you arrive.

In addition to the Knights Ferry to Orange Blossom trip, Sunshine offers an Orange Blossom to Oakdale trip which is of comparable length and difficulty. This four-five hour float tour starts at Orange Blossom Recreation Area, and finishes at Oakdale Recreation Area off of River Road. This section of the Stanislaus River is popular with families and groups with small children (age 6-up), youth groups, and those seeking a relaxing, low-risk float trip. The scenery is mostly jungle-like with long stretches of remote, serene floating. Sand bars and islands along the way make a nice rest stop for picnicking.

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